Eighty-five years after the premiere of Aufstieg und Fall Der Stadt Mahagonny in Leipzig, Weill and Brecht’s masterpiece will enjoy its Royal Opera House debut at Covent Garden. The new production, which runs 10 March – 4 April, is directed by ROH Associate Director John Fulljames, whose Opera Group/Young Vic production of Street Scene won the 2008 Evening Standard Award for Best Musical. Mark Wigglesworth conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House and a cast that features Anne Sofie von Otter as Leokadja Begbick, Willard White as Trinity Moses, Christine Rice as Jenny Smith, and Kurt Streit as Jimmy MacIntyre. The work will be performed in a new English translation by Jeremy Sams, who has translated Weill’s operetta Der Kuhhandel and the lyrics of The Threepenny Opera.
In Mahagonny, Weill and Brecht created a mythical sin city where money rules and the pursuit of pleasure is paramount. Weill’s score crosses over from opera to cabaret and Broadway, incorporating elements of jazz and music hall, and Brecht’s libretto is a stinging critique of capitalism, greed, and consumerism. “This is an opera which cannot fail to connect to its audience,” said Fulljames in the Kurt Weill Newsletter. “It’s remarkable that the shocks of Weill’s opera have lost none of their freshness and that the opera still speaks so potently today. Politically, its exploration of a society built on consumption has surely ended up ringing far more true today than even Brecht and Weill could have imagined.” In recent years, the opera has been produced at the Berliner Staatsoper, Vienna Staatsoper, Israeli Opera, and Teatro Real Madrid. The Madrid production, staged by La Fura dels Baus, is available on home video.
Opera lovers and Weill-Brecht fans around the globe who can’t make it to Covent Garden will be able to experience the Royal Opera House production of Mahagonny through live cinema and radio broadcasts:
CINEMA: Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny will be filmed on 1 April and screened in over a thousand theaters across six continents, from Reykjavik to Buenos Aires, as part of the 2014-15 Royal Opera House Live Cinema Season. Find a screening near you.
RADIO: Mahagonny will be broadcast live from Covent Garden on BBC Radio 3 on 14 March at 7:20 pm, and may be streamed for 30 days afterwards.